By Colim, A.; Arezes, P.; Flores, P.; Braga, A.C.
International Journal of Industrial Ergonomics
Obesity is highly prevalent in the workforce but little is known about its effects on musculoskeletal disorders risk factors, such as the posture adopted during work activity. Vertical Handling Tasks (VHT), including manual lifting and lowering loads, are quite frequent in industrial settings and are considered to be a major cause of Work-Related Musculoskeletal Disorders (WMSD). Therefore, the main objective of this study is to compare and analyse the strategies and postures adopted during VHT between obese and non-obese subjects. A kinematics study with the VICON (R) system was conducted within a convenience sample of 8 non-obese (4 women and 4 men) and 8 obese (4 women and 4 men) volunteers participants. Different occupational conditions were tested over 8 trials of VHT. When developing VHT, the obese group presents kinematics significant differences (p < 0.05), compared with non-obese, namely: a decrease in the duration of the tasks, an increase in the horizontal distance between the load and the body worker, and an increase of the trunk sagittal flexion. This study demonstrates that obese individuals are exposed to a higher level of WMSD risk, during VHT performance. Relevance to industry: The findings are relevant to ergonomic workstations/job design for obese workers. This study defends that obesity can be a WMSD risk factor during VHT frequently found in industry, pointing to the need of companies to include this factor during ergonomic interventions on workstations and to adopt obesity prevention measures.